What may have been a routine purge of rule-breaking profiles to Facebook was a devastating blow to the cosplay community—people who dress and perform as characters for fun. In an effort to purge bogus accounts with fake names, Facebook deleted profiles with “Cosplay” in the username with no immediate warning to users.
Three days after what cosplayers are beginning to coin "the deletion of 8-21," they're left with a choice: rebuild what’s been lost or start fresh somewhere new.
More than 400 cosplayers have decided to stick it out with Facebook. They’re gathering at Cosplayers UNITE in order to share their new rules-compliant cosplay pages and regain old connections. Even those who did not lose their cosplay accounts have lost many friends.
The group was founded by Jayce Williams, a Raleigh, N.C. cosplay photographer. Williams was forced to make his cosplay profile rules-compliant back in December.
“My username use to be Animaze Guy,” he said. “Just after Christmas, my account was deleted and remained down for three days. I had to provide a photo via email to prove that I was a real person and now my real name is locked in.”
Williams said he tried to warn friends that Facebook was cracking down on real names, but he said they told him they’d deal with it when Facebook contacted them about it. However, this time Facebook didn’t provide individual warnings before removing cosplay profiles.
“I think its sad that Facebook can't be what people want it to be considering it was made for the people to bond as they see fit,” he said. “It should have raised more question when [Facebook realized] eliminating accounts with ‘cosplay’ in their title would take out so many.”
But not every cosplayer is ready to give Facebook a second chance. Nerd Caliber, the geek news site which was one of the first to break the news of the account purge, has urged its readers to “unfriend Facebook”:
“Facebook is adamant in pushing their policies to delete any accounts with ‘false names.’ If that is the case, then I say let’s start looking into building new communities elsewhere. If I lived in a place where I am not wanted, but I know another place where I would be accepted with open arms, does it not make sense to go to that better place where myself and my friends won’t be mistreated?”
One of those new places is Social Cos, a small Facebook-like community exclusively for cosplay. World Cosplay is another. Anywhere that caters specifically to cosplayers is being viewed as a viable alternative.
“We wont get deleted because of the word cosplay [on Social Cos],” Melissa Beckford wrote.
As Facebook works to remove any user profile without a real name it can sell to advertisers, it will continue to come across large pockets of people who use aliases—people with stage names, political dissidents, the transgender community. Each time, it will risk a larger exodus.
Photo by Jayce Williams